Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oh, Why Can't A Woman Be Like That?

After three weeks of fencing lessons, I've come to a rather startling realization.

If there's going to be a fight, I'll fight a man rather than a woman any day.
Women are crazy. They have no predictability, no method. They swing their foils wildly, madly, eager to poke you. (There are a few female students who fence coolly and calmly, but not many) They confuse your mind, disorient you, then jab. Your mind goes wild and your steady discipline vanishes. Before you can get it back under control enough to consider your task at hand, the maniacal female gets in another jab.
It's so different with the guys. They play by the rules. Their moves are ordered, structured, cool in execution even if driven by adrenaline. They are "semi" predictable. Yes, they have advantage in height and strength, but when I fence a male, my mind isn't driven mad. I can fence with complimentary coolness, organization, and ordered maneuvers. Yes, I'll fight a man any day. Be he much more skilled than I, at least he has a steady method and is slightly predictable. I don't mind being stabbed as long as I can see it coming or recognize fair play.

Is there a lesson in this beyond fencing? I mean, do these characteristics extend to the ways men and women act in life, toward life, and toward each other too?
Sometimes it can seem like it. I'd be interested to hear from both sides.

At least in my experience, females seem to leave the boundaries of emotional "fair play" with greater regularity than males. The female mind can be bewildering to understand and dizzying to watch. I'm sure that all girls have felt those unexplainable bursts of rage, hurt, and frustrated glee propelling them into a fury of metaphorical stabs and jabs into anything and everything withing reach.
But must this be the case? Can a woman overcome - at least outwardly - this wild manner and train herself to a steady hand and cool purpose?
And is the masculine calm more than skin deep or is it but a veneer? Is the (sometimes irrationally infuriating) male logic part and parcel to masculinity, or is it cultivated and entrained?
And why should the calm, the solid, the purposefulness of man evoke a strong longing and feeling of security in a female, then irritate her an hour later?

I'd be glad for any illuminating thoughts, insights, comments, etc.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recent Impressions

Over the course of the past few weeks, I've read and watched several interesting things. Perhaps not an enormous quantity, but definitely more valuable literature than I read while at Hope. I am, most definitely, unqualified to comment with authority on these works as I have only just been introduced to them and have not had time to give each more than a single, brief examination. However, I feel an undeniable urge to reflect on a few impressions.

Lilith by George MacDonald:
This is an intense work of fiction. Reading this tale, one can easily understand why MacDonald has been called, "the Father of Fantasy." Because the book is so highly allegorical, metaphorical, and otherwise laden with hidden meaning, it is somewhat difficult to speak of the "storyline," because how the story develops is so inextricably bound up with what the story is about. It's a tale that's not so much about what happens in the story as what happens behind the story and is represented by the story. Like the multiple dimensions that Mr. Vane, the main character, wanders into, Lilith unfolds both on the page, in the imagination, and in one's metaphysical experience of thought.
Mr. Vane, unattached, unconcerned about any pursuit other than his horses and his books of science, ignorant of his own history and manor house, finds himself walking through a closet door in his attic into...the outdoors. Only he is told by a mysterious Raven/man, whose form he can't quite pin down, that he has not come out, but has come in, and that he must continue in, until he finds his home - the place where he can freely go out and in. For the first few chapters, the reader is just as confused and disoriented as Mr. Vane while the character in question stumbles in and out of what he considers his "home" "dimension" - but not at his own will. After he refuses to fall asleep under kind care of Raven and his wife in the cold hall of the "dead" Vane finds that his misguided stubbornness has cost him this rest for the present and ends up wandering a strange world where the moon protects him from grotesque monsters,where phantoms walk, fight, and dance in the woods, where he is made slave to idiotic giants who can't even observe the merry miniscule "children" who gambol around and provide for their captive with an inocence and love endearing to the hapless Vane. Forced at last to flee the giants, Vane meets with Mara the "woman of sorrow" who directs him to the city of Bulika despite the fact that an evil princess dwells therein. Unwittingly, Vane meets the princess on the way, dying, and spends over a month nursing her back to health. She then despises and turns on him, though he then follows her unable to psychologically let her go for a time. Eventually he learns her evil and determines to thwart her, despite her strange spotted leopardess manifestations and the Shadow that walks with her and whom she serves. But she takes him in, deceives him once more and he suddenly "wakes" in his own house. But she is there too as a cat, and so also is Raven, now fully distinguishable as a man. Lilith, for that is the princess' name, is revealed by Adam (the erstwhile Raven) through words of a poetic prophecy, and she must obey him, for he was her husband and has been - in his now perfected state - given power over her. Yet she swears to drink the blood of Adam's children so that the prophetic child who will destroy her may not be revealed. As the narrative develops, Vane once more rebels against the instruction of Adam to the death of the woman/child he loves best - Adam and Lilith's daughter whom Lilith kills. But finally, Lilith is brought to her knees, and overcome by Mara who has constantly opposed the spotted leopardess in the form of a white leopardess. Lilith's "conversion" takes awhile, and even at the last, she cannot open her hand. Adam must cut it off for her before she can sleep in peace. Vane too longs to sleep with the dead who are more alive than those who walk the earth, but for him another task is appointed in order to release the waters which Lilith had stolen from the earth and which will bring life. Eventually he too sleep, resurrects, and finds himself in, well, we would call it heaven. But as he enters heaven with his dear love who has also awakened from her sleep, he finds that he has walked into his own familiar home again.
Now the above disjointed narrative isn't particularly coherent, but then, neither is the book itself. It's a rough portrayal of several narrative themes: yes themes, for there are many.

I would highly recommend Lilith to any literature lover who has any taste for metaphor and symbolism. As in any work of fantasy, the theology is perhaps not quite orthodox and chances are the theology of the writer was not completely either, but imperfection finds its home in all of us.
A few key points that that stand out in my memory are:
(1)Vane's fear and trust only in himself prevents him from heeding wise instruction and receiving blessing. As a consequence, he usually ends up orchestrating the exact opposite of what he intends. His intentions are good, but fail when he relies on his own reason and impetuosity.
(2) Lilith is a slave to her own appearance, power and majesty to the point where she sacrifices all others to gain her own ends. For this reason she serves the Shadow, though she herself imagines herself independent and all powerful in herself. She fears and hates whatever may end her beauty and power - particularly her daughter. Lilith's live is sustained by gorging herself on the lives of others. The most explicit examples of this are her "white leech" manifestation which sucked the life from Vane and the "spotted leopard" manifestation which devoured the infants of Bulika.
(3) Evil is opposed to children and the family. It's pretty obvious. Lilith wants conception prevented and kills the children who are born. In contrast, Adam and Eve are fruitful, and the little "Lover" children are the most obvious mortal "good" in the story.
(4) Water. Water gives life, and Evil takes water. But Evil cannot steal all water - some will be saved.
(5) Mara the Woman of Sorrow. She constantly opposes Lilith, not to harm her but to bring her to repentence. Mara is the voice which calls all she comes in contact with to contrition and repentence. Her scarred, concealingly wrapped face contrasts Lilith's flaunted gorgeousness. In her house, children may rest safe and bread may be given them - one day at a time. In her house also, Lilith is wracked by light and truth, hammered as it were by the Law, until she is broken to the point where she can be healed.
(6) Lilith's hand. In her painful inner torment, Lilith refuses to repent. In the same breath, she also refuses to open her clenched hand. Even when broken by revelation of who she truly is, and ready to repent and seek the mercy and aid of Adam, she cannot open her hand. She strives with all her might and cries out in anguish, but for all her exertion, she cannot cause her hand to open and release what it held within. Until her hand is opened however, she cannot "sleep" the blessed sleep of Adam and Eve's chill chamber; she cannot enter life. She pleads with Adam to open her hand for her. At the last, the hand must be cut off. But that is not the end of the hand. Vane is charged to carry the hand following the slightest noise of the underground water to the stream's very source. There he must dig down to the water and bury the hand in it.

I suppose that's enough rambling reflection on Lilith.

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis.
This book was also very moving for me. I didn't know Lewis could write like this. As the plot proceeded, I found myself more and more convicted. As Orual began to realize that she was Ungol, I began to realize I was Orual. The same Orual who was made to see that all her life she had been draining the life from others who loved her. (Somehow, I think Lewis meant it to be that way) The rest of the story overwhelmed me. Especially the point where Orual brings her complaint against the gods before the Judge. When she opens her mouth to read the scroll upon which she has written her accusation, what spews forth is but an indictment of herself, a true exposition of her true self in it's selfishness. Orual realizes that to hear herself was the answer of the gods to her accusation. All that she had written against them before was but a facade over her real self. Without her true face, she could accuse the gods; once she had a face, she could not.
In a way she could not fathom or grasp, the ugly Orual was Psyche. And Psyche herself walked through the bitter dark places to bring back the antidote to make "Ungol" - the monstrous, the ugly - beautiful.
In the end, Orual knows why the gods give no answer. "You yourself are the answer. Before your face, questions die away."

I will admit that I was crying by the end of the book. There are just some tales that do that to a person. We weep because we realize that the story is not about some fantastic people in far off faery-land: it is about us. Honestly, I think that is at least part of what makes a good story. The stories we love help us to see and learn about ourselves in some way.

I also read G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday and was deeply affected by that as well, but I will not venture to reflect on it here.

As for some more superfluous stuff, last Saturday I watched two movies - one with a large group of students and friends, the other at a professor's house with only my classmates.

The first was a Russian film called Andrei Rublev.
This film was in Russian, but had some English subtitles. I won't say it was the greatest movie, or even "one of the 15 greatest films of all time" as its jacket proclaims it, but I found it worthwhile nonetheless. The theme, more or less, centered on the midievil Russian monk iconographer Andrei Rublev and if it failed somewhat in making a concise point, it succeeded in painting a graphic picture of Russia as it was - the pagan, the Christians of all stripes, treacherous, cruel princes, and murderous Tartars. Basically, these served as a backdrop to illumine the gentle character of Andrei Rublev. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this film, what makes it impressive despite it's very outdated photography and apparent lack of focus is the fact that it was made in Soviet Russia and even funded with Soviet monies. If you have 8 minutes, watch this and wonder for yourself that it was produced in Communist Russia. According to a friend, the filmmaker went to the Soviets and asked for funding to make a film about a great Russian folk-hero. The goverment unwittingly aided him, never guessing until it was finished that the "people's" money was supporting a film about an Orthodox monk. Parts of the movie are gruesome and grotesque and I wonder why certain sections are included. Perhaps I simply do not have the cultural background necessary for all the elements to speak.

The second movie - which I saw snuggled under quilts with my class in a professor's basement, eating HUGE slices of apple pie with slabs of vanilla icecream - was Casa Blanca. Again, I don't think it would qualify as one of my very favorite films, but I enjoyed and much appreciated it.
Most importantly, I was glad to see that Hollywood could show that real love upholds fidelity, and where another love conflicted with fidelity, the most loving thing that love can do is to release the thing loved. I could just hear a whisper of "We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor's wife, worker, or animals, but encourage them to stay and do their duty" as I watched. The various moments of comic relief were much welcome as well.

And I probably should (a) not post this before proofreading, and (b) go to sleep, but I think I'll disregard (a) in deference to (b) as it is almost 1am.

I realize even now that this post isn't really very coherent, but I guess it isn't really meant to be. I just needed to let my fingers ramble around the keyboard a little while on these subjects.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

At Ease

What is it about affection (as opposed to friendship, eros, and charity which C.S. Lewis identifies in The Four Loves) that allows the taking of liberities and is even humored by them?

No one can deny that affection does allow a dimension of communication that is not otherwise present. Actions or statements that would irritate or anger one if proceeding from any other person are endearing, touching, humorous, or charmingly idiosyncratic in the context of the affectionate relationship. I'm considering for example, the difference between this scenario of address by a classmate and a scenario this morning where a similiar classmate referred to me as "cute." In the later case, however, his comment only elicited a laugh and a light-hearted threat on my part to throw a mug at him, provoking general genial amusement.

I wish to know why this is so. Why does affection put one so at ease that almost nothing provokes an extreme response; e.g. anger, passion, bitterness, pain? Lewis comments that real affection does not wish to wound and practices the art of joking in kindness, but this does not explain to me the mechanism. Perhaps I have simply misunderstood. I'd be interested to hear any thoughts about why there is ease in affection.

And yet there are instances where deep wounds are given in relationships of affection. Normally, the wounded party covers the hurt over for the sake of affection. But then a guard is put up. Is the relationship henceforth affection? Or is it a facade of affection? If the person is ill at ease but pretends not to be, is such not deceptive?

I know that there are those people who make me ill at ease in one sense, but whom I feel a certain affection toward. I guess I'm wondering whether that is still affection in the sense that Lewis means, and if it is affection, why am I not at ease.

Monday, January 26, 2009

An Attempt.

So, I tried. It's not really the best I've ever written, nor am I totally happy with it, but this is the closest I can come at this point according to my limited understanding in discussing the difference between Augustine and Luther's concept of the Will in "about 1 page." It doesn't necessarily help that I have to reason from limited excerpts, though it does narrow the reading considerably.

Both read the same Scripture; both came to different conclusions. Augustine claimed Freewill; Luther asserted an Enslaved Will (On Grace and Free Will, Chapter 2 and following; On the Enslaved Will, Section IX).

Augustine argues that man must have free will because God commands him to choose between certain things, which choice is a function proper to the will (On Grace and Free Will, Chapter 3, 4, 5). To keep God’s law, free will must be assisted by grace and thus the achievement of the command is also due to grace (Chapters 6,7, 8, 9). God gives a man whose merit is evil a “good will” as grace. This “good will” is free and does good works with the help of more gratuitous grace (Chapters 12, 13) . These good works done with the help of grace by the good will (which was given by grace) are for a man “good merit” which God recompenses with Eternal Life (Chapter 14). Eternal life is by grace because God renders it according to works which proceed from God’s gift of faith; it is grace because it rewards the good life possible by God’s grace (Chapters 16, 17, 18, 19, 20). Free will is not taken away but works out its salvation aided by grace which is not remission of sin only, but fulfills the law, liberates the nature, removes the mastery of sin, and allows faith and endurance (Chapters 21, 27, 28). In this life a man receives “good for evil,” that is grace not according to merit, but “let us do good that in the future world we may receive good for good,” that is the crown of life in return for the merit of works performed by grace (Chapter 44). God is able to turn the will of man whithersoever he pleases, and men who are turned to believe in God had no previous entitlement to be turned (Chapters 41, 29, 43). God chose and loved us first and can we help but choose him afterward of our free will? Yet that choice has no merit unless God choose first (Chapter 38). God’s secret counsel is always righteous; when he hardens a man’s heart and turns him to doing evil it is in judgment of his own evil deeds (Chapters 42, 43, 44). To be sure, man hardens his own heart as well (Chapter 45). God turns him, but the man wills the hardening (Chapter 42). God for knows who will be ungodly and forsakes them in judgment on their deeds, withholding his grace (Chapter 45).

Luther disagrees. God does not for know by contingency (and so does not with hold grace from one because he forsees that he will do evil) but according to His unchangeable will (On the Enslaved Will, Section IX). God’s will belongs to His nature and as God’s nature is immutable, so is His Will. God forsees as He wills and wills as He forsees (OEW, Section IX). Man’s will is mutable, impotent and depraved (OEW, Section X). Salvation is the working of God alone - without co-operation of man’s will. Without the spirit of God, man does evil “spontaneously, and with a desirous willingness...which he cannot, by his own power, leave off, restrain, or change; but it goes on still desiring and craving (OEW, Section XXV).” Though human will cannot change its inclination – as it could were it free – God can change it; not at all by compulsion but so that it “desires and acts...responsively, from pure willingness, inclination and accord; so that it cannot be turned another way by anything contrary, nor be compelled or overcome even by the gates of hell; but it still goes on to desire, crave after, and love that which is good; even as before, it desired, craved after, and loved that which was evil (OEW, Section XXV).” The will is compared to a mount which cannot run to a particular rider. Satan and God contend for the saddle and the winner directs the beast. Rather than salvation being given to man by works, however instigated, supported, and fueled by ‘grace,’ God “promised to save me, not according to my working or manner of life, but according to His own grace and mercy” which is due solely to His own will. “In this way we please God not from the merit of our works but from the favour of his mercy promised unto us; and that, if we work less, or work badly, He does not impute it unto us, but as a Father, pardons and makes us better (OEW, Section CLXIV).”

Luther and Augustine’s disagreement goes beyond the “simple” question of whether a man has free will to the core question of how a man is justified. Both Augustine and Luther maintain that man is saved by God’s grace, but by that they mean two very different things. Augustine’s salvation by Grace consists in God giving man a good will, and helping that will by grace to do good works, and at last rewarding those good works with everlasting life, even though the man himself did not originate the good works (On Grace and Free Will, Chapter 20, etc). Luther’s salvation by grace casts works entirely aside asserting that faith in the word of God alone justifies. Salvation is entirely vicarious: the merit of Christ applied to man by faith, thus fulfilling the law (On the Freedom of a Christian, Part III). “For the word of God cannot be received and honoured by any works, but by faith alone” “and since it alone justifies, it is evident that by no outward work or labour can the inward man be at all justified, made free, and saved; and that no works whatever have any relation to him. And so, on the other hand, it is solely by impiety and incredulity of heart that he becomes guilty and a slave of sin, deserving condemnation, not by any outward sin or work (On the Freedom of a Christian, Part III).” Since salvation “depends on the working of God alone” who acts “according to his immutable, eternal, and infallible will,” human free will is “knocked flat and utterly shattered” and “those...who would assert ‘Free Will’ must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or find some other way of dodging it (On the Enslaved Will, Section XXV, Section IX).” Luther would likely say that Augustine has done the latter.

I'd welcome feedback on whether I've got this correct or not. Or any other commentary. I felt like I was chasing Augustine around in circles for a while. And while I loved Luther's writing - it was so beautifully worded I wanted to either laugh or cry - I'm not sure I was able to nail him down in my writing. Partly due to the fact that I was working from excerpts and had to reference those excerpts.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gar! (Not the Fish - The Other Kind)

I can't think anymore about Luther and Augustine. They're driving me nuts! I think I finally understand where they differ on the Will, but I sure hope and pray that what I'm writing makes as much sense to my professor as it does to me. Augustine (St) is so slippery sometimes!

To make it very, very simple, I think it's like this.

Augustine: Free Will.
"Salvation by Grace" recipe: God gratuitously gives a "good will" to evil merit, then helps the "good will" with grace so that the "good will" does good works which constitute good merit which is rewarded with eternal life.

Luther: Enslaved Will.
"Salvation by Grace" recipe: God gives faith to believe Gospel of salvation. Faith justifies because Christ's works are vicariously applied, thus fulfilling the law, without any works of the man justified.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Good" Art

This is really neat! It's the best discussion of "good" art that I've ever run across. Usually, discussions of art are relativistic and subjectivistic. It's refreshing to see someone taking it from a different angle.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Very Brief Critique of Machiavelli

This is a very brief criticism of excerpts from Machiavelli's The Prince which I did as part of Philosophy homework for this week. We were told to identify "the problem with 1/2 to 1 page." I barely made it. No surprise there. I guess I could have left it with the first paragraph, but I figured I need to expand the idea more.

The major problem with Machiavelli is that his advice does not center around a question of hypothetical or philosophical “Good” or “Evil” but rather focuses on how to successfully gain and maintain the position of “The Prince (The Prince, Chapter 15).” Machiavelli recognizes that virtue does not necessarily secure a prince in his princedom nor gain for him political power. But the next step in his reasoning is fatal: to pursue a secure princedom above the law of God (Chapter 15). Once this break with virtue is made, the rest of his conclusions follow quite naturally and logically. Indeed, Machiavelli seems to explain with great accuracy and wisdom actions critical to retaining power, well illustrating the historical precedent of these with pertinent examples (e.g. Cesare Borgia, Chapter 17; Julius II, Chapter 25; etc).

At the crux of this handbook of power lies Machiavelli’s misunderstanding of God’s action in history. He seems to see Divinity solely as a power which sometimes directs Fortune on man’s behalf; in no sense does God direct the actions of men to his purpose, nor does he requite the breaking of His law with man’s downfall (Chapter 25,26). When the prince is thrust from his high seat, the tumble was obviously precipitated by failure to perform the balancing act of political stratagem. The Prince cites figures who have risen from obscurity to fame, wealth, and power, but attributes the elevation not to God but to the personal achievement of the individuals (Chapter 6) despite the fact that Moses didn’t ‘do diddly’ without God’s prodding and Cyrus’ rise to power was prophesied long before his birth. Even oppressed suffering Machiavelli interprets not as a chastening of God or as a means to show forth His deliverance, but only to accentuate the greatness of the leaders who arose out of it (Chapter 26). Machiavelli appeals to God’s miraculous provision (Chapter 26) but fails to understand that God does not answer to man’s demand, nor is He an instrument of war, but acts in lawful retribution or in mercy. Machiavelli commands God’s limited assistance on the grounds that “war is just which is necessary, and arms are hallowed when there is no other hope but in them.” In this way, God is reduced to an impotent spectator, “not willing to do everything and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us (Chapter 26).”

With God restricted to mouldering in the armoury until needed, the prince is left to ride the tides of fortune guided by the “spirit of the times” (Chapter 25). To determine whether to act virtuously or not he sniffs the Zeitgeist breeze. After all, vice is not punished but rewarded when prescribed prudently in pharmaceutical doses (Chapter 8, 15). Meanness, cruelty, and faithlessness become essential political tools for “it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it...according to necessity (Chapter 16, 17, 18, 15).” When “of evil it is lawful to speak well” it becomes clear that, to Machiavelli, the measure of right and wrong is no longer set by God but by whatever a prince thinks appropriate in to stabilize his carefully accumulated house of power cards. This is Machiavelli's most serious error: the abandoning of the objective moral standard which is God.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Turn Eighteen

It is my Baptism Day! Yay! I actually remembered for once! Usually, I remember that my baptism day is coming a few days before, and then I remember a few days afterwards, but never on the actual day. I'm excited.

Eighteen years ago today the squirming little me got exorcised, drowned, buried with Christ, and raised with Him in resurrection, given the Holy Spirit, faith, lots of other good stuff, a name, and a candle. The last being probably the least important.

I was surprised last night to realize that the commemoration of Sarah is only one day before my baptism birthday. It's a rather neat coincidence, don't you think?

Becoming Fashionable: Last Night's Dream

Since Dreams seem to have become such a blogger fad in the last week, I'm going to join the "in" crowd with one of my own.

I can't remember all of it except that it was rather deeply emotional, and I ended up sobbing.

The two most tramatic events in the dream were as follows.

Mom somehow stole my big red cabbage from the basement refrigerator and boiled it. How could she? I mean, that cabbage was my sustenance! Whatever will I do without it! And just the thought of limp boiled cabbage makes me think, "Ick!"

Pastor Grobien was tried and convicted of heresy. The church (youth) were in a state of shock and didn't believe it. Pastor Stuckwisch was sobbing, which was most disconcerting. The Grobiens were the calmest people in the whole church. I'm not sure who exactly he was tried by, what the charges were, or what they were going to do to him, but ironically, I seem to remember that the heresy had something to do with Thomas Aquinas. This was rather odd.

I woke up trying to figure out what vegetable I was going to cook for dinner now that my cabbage had been murdered and feeling a very empty, grieving feeling, wondering how I could go back to an Emmaus without Pastor Grobien. It has not a happy awaking...until I realized that it had all been a dream.

Adendum to the Nightmare:
More just came back to me. Somehow I was in a foreign land and was somehow married, but I don't know who to. I and my mother in law were both expecting; at the same time, our village was being bombed. Daddy showed up to take me home to safety only to discover that I was married and he had to leave me. Strange things dreams are.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Aquinas and I

I'm becoming quite chummy with St. Thomas. I think the poor fellow is very misunderstood. Either that or he's misleading me, which I wouldn't put past the old chap, though I'm sure he wouldn't do that intentionally. Misleading me isn't ordered towards his last end and I'm not sure what certain good he could be pursuing that would cause him to mislead me. I'm guessing that it wasn't my "sensitive appetite" that caused us to put our heads together, though. My "rational appetite" probably had more to do with it. My "speculative intellect" is starting to put him to use. Last week, his writing provoked some of the passions of my "irascible appetite" but that is past. Somehow, I don't think Aquinas will ever directly affect my "concupiscible appetite."

More later, if Greek doesn't kill me first. φευγω. διωκει και τοξουει. If you can understand that (and if I didn't write it incorrectly) you get "full marks" for this lesson.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Superior Scribbler Award

This award seems a little bit like grace. Free to be freely recieved. Thanks Pasto'! I'm quite blown away.

This most wonderful blog of wonders flowing from the fingers of one Rev. Stuckisch has bestowed the award on the most blunderful blog of blunders.

The γενεσις of this award proceeds from aqui. (Trying to get three languages into one sentence.) The Spanish word which is underlined and colored indicating a link, is in fact a link, linking ('cause that's what links do) to the blogpost ('cause that's where this link leads) wherein the award ('cause that's what this post is about) is explained.

As I haven't really been closely following many terribly active blogs, I'm going to cast around a bit.

One fish
Two fish
Red fish
Blue fish
Uh, Green Eggs and Ham.

I was going to link to the Cat-in-the-Hat, but I figured that since I've never made the fellow's aquaintance, things might get awkward...

And I'd have several others on the list only, they've "privatized" their blogses or they don't even know that I secretly stalk their blogs so they wouldn't ever know if I linked to them.

To "uncodize" the above links, I give to you;

Four and Twenty Blackbirds (Because it really does make the top of my list)
A Matter of Small Importance (Ah! The ambiance of home!)
Where the Wild Things Abide Sometimes (Celebrating the Celebrated Author)
Sarah in Real Life (It's a real Sarah that's not me.)
OFHP (Though she really does need to blog more often.)

Read you now the rules!

Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass the award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received the Award.

Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his/her blog, and link to this post, which explains the award.

Each Blogger who wins the Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List (scroll down).
That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives this prestigious honor!

Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Like the Simpleton I am, I Couldn't Resist

Yeah, it's too late. And I posted links already. But I just had to scribble out some of my favorite lines from A Man For All Seasons. Those interested can find relevant clips on youtube. Some of these are more light hearted than others, some must be understood in the larger context, which, unfortunately, I have not the time to present. Others can be appreciated on their own.

This story of Thomas More as I first saw it in the movie starring Paul Scofield and later as I read it in the play by Robert Bolts has always captivated me. If I were to name the three movies which had the greatest influence on my childhood character formation, this would rank. Thomas More is not only morally upright and scrupulous, but a caring husband and father, and sincere friend. In addition, he has gained that happy discipline of a truthful and guarded tongue taught by a shrewd, cautious, insightful intellect guided by earnest faith. From the moment the movie opens to the drop of the axe, we have an image of a man unwilling to relinquish his convictions, who loves truth more than life, and hides that life in law and justice which ultimately is denied him.

Wolsey: "You're a fool"
More: "Thank God there is only one fool on the council."

Wolsey: "Thomas, we're alone. I give you my word; there's no one here."
More: "I didn't suppose there was, your Grace."

Meg: "Will wants to marry me, Father."
More: "Well, he can't marry you."

More: "There's nothing wrong with your family, Will. There's not much wrong with you. Except you seem to need a clock."
Roper: "I can buy a clock, Sir."
More: "Roper, the answer is "No" and will be "No" as long as you're a heretic."
Roper: "Now that's a word I don't like, Sir Thomas!"
More: "It's not a likeable word, it's not a likeable thing."
Roper: "The church is heretical! Dr. Luther's proved that to my satisfaction!"
More: "Luther is an excomunicate."
Roper: "From a heretic church! Church! It's a shop! Salvation by the shilling, and divorces..."
Meg: "Will!"
Roper: "What I know, I'll say."
Meg: "You've no sense of the place!"
More: yawning "He's no sense of the time. Now listen, Will. Two years ago, you were a passionate churchman. Now you're a passionate Lutheran. We must just pray that when you're head's finished turning, your face is to the front again....... Go along."
Roper: "May I come again?" More gestures to Meg
Meg: "Yes. Soon."

More: "That you should put away Queen Catherine, Sire? Oh, alas, as I think of it I see so clearly that I can not come with your Grace that my endeavor is not to think of it at all."

Henry: "How is it that you cannot see. Everyone else does!"
More: "Then why does your Grace need my poor support?"

About the King's musical composition
More: "I thought it seemed... delightful."
Henry: "Thomas, I chose the right man for Chancellor!"
More: "I must in fairness add that my taste in music is reputedly deplorable."
Henry: "Your taste in music is excellent and exactly coincides with my own!"

Alice: "Arrest him!"
More: "For what?"
Alice: "He's dangerous!"
Roper: "He's a spy!"
Meg: "Father, that man's bad!"
More: "There's no law against that."
Roper: "There is God's law."
More: "Then God can arrest him."
Alice: "While you talk he's gone!"
More: "And go he should if he were the Devil himself until he broke the law!"
Roper: "So, now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!"
More: "Yes, what would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the devil?"
Roper: "Yes! I'd cut down every law in England to do that!"
More: "Oh. rises And when the last law was down and the devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, coast to coast - Man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes! I'd give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety's sake!"

Norfolk: "Cromwell! Are you threatening me!"
Cromwell quoting Norfolk's private conversation with More: "My dear Norfolk! This isn't Spain! This is England!"

More: "I understand there are certain charges."
Cromwell: "Oh, some ambiguities of behavior I should like to clarify, hardly charges."
More: "Make a note of that, will you, Master Rich? There are no charges."

More: "Yes, I wrote a letter advising her not to meddle in the affairs of state - also witnessed."
Cromwell: "You have been cautious."
More: "I like to keep my affairs regular."

Cromwell: "Thank you! You come to the point very readily. What is that authority[of Rome]..?"
More: "You will find it very ablely set out and defended, Master Secretary, in the King's book."

More: The King knows the truth of it. And whatever he may have said to you, he will not give evidence to support this accusation."
Cromwell: "Why not?"
More: "Because evidence is given on oath, and he will not perjure himself. If you don't know that, then you don't yet know him."

More: "No my lord, you don't [know that]. You may suppose I have objections. All you know is that I will not swear to it for which you cannot lawfully harm me further.
But if you were right in supposing me to have objections, and right again in supposing my objections to be treasonable, the law would let you cut my head off. "

Norfolk: "Why can't you do as I did and come join us for fellowship?"
More: "And when we die and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me for fellowship?"

More: "Some men think the earth is round. Others think it flat. It is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign."

Cromwell: "Oh, Justice is what you're threatened with!"
More: "Then I am not threatened."

Roper: "This is a hellish place!"
More: "Except it's keeping me from you my dears, it's not so bad."

Meg: "Then say the words of the oath and in your heart think otherwise!"
More: "What is an oath, then, but words we say to God? [Silence] Listen, Meg! When a man takes an oath, he's holding his own self in his own hands, like water. And if he opens his fingers then, he needn't hope to find himself again. Some men aren't capable of this, but I'd be loath to think your father one of them."

More: "That's very neat, but look now. If we lived in a state where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us saintly. But since we see that avarice, anger, pride, and stupidity commonly profit far beyond charity, modesty, justice, and thought, perhaps we must stand fast a little, even at the risk of being heroes."
Meg: "But in reason, haven't you done as much as God can reasonably want?"sobs
More: "Well, finally, it isn't a matter of reason. Finally, it's a matter of love."

More: "Death comes for us all, my lords. Yes, even for kings he comes."
Judge: "The death of kings is not in question, Sir Thomas."
More: "Nor mine, I trust, until I'm proven guilty."
Norfolk: "You life lies in your own hands, Thomas, as it always has!"
More: "Is that so, my lord? Then I'll keep a good grip on it."

Moore: "The world must construe according to its wits. This court must construe according to the Law."

Rich: "'Supposing there were an act of Parliament stating that I, Richard Rich, were to be King. Would not you, Master More, take me for King?'
'That I would' he said. 'For then you would be King.'...Then he said, 'But I will put you a higher case. How if there were an act of Parliament to say that God should not be God?" continues from truth into perjury

More: "Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. But for Wales?"

More: "My Lords, when I was practicing Law the custom was to ask the prisoner, before pronouncing sentence, if he had anything to say."

More: "I do none harm. I say none harm. I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, then, in good faith I long not to live. "

More: "I am commanded by the king to be brief. And since I am the King's obedient subject, brief I will be: I die His Majesty's good servant, but God's first."

More to executioner: "Be not afraid of your office. You send me to God."
Archbishop: "You are very sure of that, Sir Thomas?"
More: "He will not refuse one who is so blythe to go to Him." kneels, signs himself with the Cross, lays his neck on the block.

A Death Like This
I want to die like this. Not in this manner, but with this confidence.
And I this is why I am so rule-oriented. I know that I may seem very picky and obsessed with doing everything right and properly, but here's the reason. (first half)
And I for one think a Lutheran suitor like this quite appropriate.
I wish I could be so calm under pressure and quick on my feet...
...and so firm in my resolution

And I wish I had the movie here so that I could watch the whole thing!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I hurt.

But it is a funny sort of hurt.

Always before, when I have had a workout, my whole body (or at least complementary muscles on both sides) have ached almost equally badly.

Not now.

Last night, my friend and I went to the first class of beginner's Fencing. It was really wonderful.
This morning I was surprised that I didn't ache at all and I expressed such to my friend who didn't either.

But as the day wore on, there crept an ache from neck downwards and stiffened to make walking, sitting, and rising rather painful.

I wouldn't even bother to blog about pain were it not that this pain is so unusual. For you see, it affects the right half of my body alone: the left suffers no ache. I hope this is not a portent of things to come.

It's really quite uncomfortable to hurt so terribly on only one side. It makes for an interesting climb up and down stairs.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Augustine or Wolfgang?

My art professor said this was St. Wolfgang Assisted by a Devil by Michael Pacher, from the St. Wolfgang altarpiece.
But Wikipedia says that it is St. Augustine rather than St. Wolfgang. I'm not sure. I do love the Saint's stern expression, though.

and thanks to those who helped me find it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Creativity or Luck?

Creativity = a fifteen minute walk with milk, peanut butter, jelly, oatmeal, yougurt, tea, cabbage, hamburger, syrup, and a dozen eggs in one's backpack at the end of which the milk is not spilt and the eggs are not broken.

(Or maybe it was just a coincidence that the eggs didn't crack)

Note to self: Cabbages are heavy!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Learning From Mistakes

Today has been a very educational day. And it's only half over! Imagine...

Allow me to share my new-found wisdom:

1. Never willingly sleep through your alarm if it is a Sunday morning and you have a long walk to church. You will eventually come to in a state of frantic panic in which you must dress, wash-up, eat, wrap in outdoor's garb and rush into the snow.

2. Don't assume that just because the big church door won't open when you tug on it that it is locked. Maybe you just have to jerk it really hard.

3. Never let the concerned nice seniors looking to "mother" you (or "father" you as the case may be) know that you have walked in the snow for thirty-five minutes if you have the least bit of desire to walk home. They won't let you and you'll have a spontaneous network set up to give you rides. Never mind that you need exercise - It's cold!

4. Never, ever sit close to the front of the sanctuary when you have never witnessed communion practice at that particular church before. Somehow, you will end up in the front of the line and will look stupid not knowing what to do. (In the same vein, decide beforehand how you are going to receive the elements, because if you put out your hand and open your mouth at the same time, um, more people than you will be confused. :P)

5. Don't let anyone know that you like to read if you don't want to be dragged to the library and encouraged to take out a book. And especially don't let anyone know that you enjoyed Pontius Pilate by Paul Meier if you don't want them to dig up other novels by the author for you to read.

6. Don't be caught between a half-deaf, ancient "Grandmother" (as they all call her) who wants to tell you about her life and the elderly gentleman who insists on taking you over to show you how to get hot chocolate and muffins. You just can't listen and talk to both at the same time.

7. Don't assume you know what to do with a Communion Card or that the Guest Book will be at the back of the church.

8. Wait a few moments before drinking your hot chocolate otherwise, you will have no skin left on the roof of your mouth.

9. But don't wait too long, or the nice gentleman will think you do not want it and will offer to go dump it out for you.

10. When two elderly gentlemen both take it upon themselves to find you a ride home, be sure to communicate clearly that you already have a ride to at least one of them, since you cannot ride home in two vehicles.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Masked Man: A Poetic Draft

The Masked Man

There stands between each one of us,
At least, or so it seems,
A barrier, an armor strong,
To hide our hopes and dreams.

In steel or stone doth not consist,
Nor wooden shield nor clay,
Yet still it watches flesh and bone
Just as a sentry may.

This sentry-mask the will doth weave,
And skillfully apply,
As guard to bar the castle-keep
From each intruder eye.

When wrapped in this concealing cloak,
So natural appears,
That stranger ever fails to mark,
That shield at all he wears.

His form it molds and gracefully,
Though may at times stiff seem;
Yet oft it wearying will grow,
As shouldering a beam.

At length when all have left his side,
Relieved, he then will sigh.
The sentry-mask doth melt away
Then from his heart will cry.

Nay! Weeping is not all restrained,
By filmy guardian stout.
A tender smile, a hearty laugh
As easily could spring out.

A strong embrace, a heartening touch,
A word to lift the heart;
If but this gold doth lie in hold,
What need for sentry part?

What need? What need? The panicked Will
Puts hand, it seems, to sword.
Thrice vigilence sets 'fore the door:
Now dare to touch the hoard!

Why? What is there that cuts you so,
To 'vision your keep disclosed?
Would you display this rigid mask,
Instead of joys and woes?

This sturdy shield is fair enough,
But, Sir, it isn't you!
Do open up your golden store,
If only to a few.

Tis true not all you hide is fair,
For human yet you are.
But locked away 'twill sure decay,
In light is wrought repair.

This skulking cloak doth reek of fear,
Of what are you afraid?
It's loneliness your mask invites,
For solitude 'tis made.

The Will doth flinch: "Good Sir, tis true.
The solitude is hard.
But of unguarded treasure store,
Dare I now be the bard?

"A gift ill-used doth break the heart,
Of giver - there's the pain!
A cheer sincere when hearts are sore,
To them doth cause the same.

"What shall they think if open I,
My keep and deepest thought?
I'm then in danger of assault,
and vuln'rable be caught!

"Tis better keep my doors well barred,
The safe facade retain:
My body, words, my diplomats,
Who must not me betray."

Ah! Fearful Will, I pity Thee!
Wherefore dost lie in terror?
Look there -beyond your desperate try
To fortify in error.

See there is one who opened wide,
The keep of his own treasure.
His heart he gave, his words he sent:
To mock it was their pleasure.

Still in his love he did not hide,
Himself from hate and hurt.
The host swept in, his walls they razed;
His ravaged keep they burnt.

Yet from the wreck and flames engulfed,
He rose and raised again,
The towers and the turrets high;
His hold was filled again.

And from that treasure-keep doth give,
Full pardon for all lives,
And healing and security,
For those of these deprived.

His gates are never shut to us,
No distant mask he wears.
He ever doth speak his hearts-truth;
For man, sincerely cares.

None can his territory rob,
Nor land in conquest take.
His vassals fear no fire or sword,
No scarcity them shake.

For as they open wide their halls,
And spread abroad their wealth,
What has been lost, he fills again:
They need no mask or stealth.

Good Sir, you need no clinging mask;
Who shall your hurt employ?
Disclose the hidden face of yours,
That it may give us joy.

Your imperfections do but show,
The kindness of our Liege,
Who works through them and mends them all:
For that we would not grieve.

True, candor from your lips may wound,
But he who heals is nigh.
We're better off for tears he quench,
Than if our eyes were dry.

Mask, crack and no more crush the soul!
Oh sentry, now do flee!
I need you now no more because,
Another guardeth me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Violating my Principles

Alas! I am breaking an unspoken contract. I was determined not to "sully" my blog with youtube, not that youtube would have a great effect on the quality of the blog. I guess I just didn't want it to be cluttered with other people's works. I wanted this to be a place for original stuff.

But I've already put other unoriginal works up, like poetry. So I might as well post this. I'd like to put the video on, but I don't have real-player which my sister tells me is necessary for such things. I can't resist, so here is the link: The Dragon

Ok, so maybe it's not worth getting worked up over. But I like the song even better with the pictures. If you choose to listen to it you absolutely MUST NOT listen to it without watching it!! The pictures are part of the reason I put it up. Some one very obviously put a lot of effort into finding these images and making them match the lyrics. I especially love the last two images before the lyrics end. They're awesome!

Just so no one is completely caught by surprise, this is a Michael Card song from his album treating the book of Revelation. As always, some of his songs I like very much, and others not at all. This is one of the liked ones. If you remember the dragon part of Revelation, you'll probably appreciate this. At any rate, here 'tis. This is a pretty lame post, so I hope that those of you who take the time to follow the link will enjoy it more than this.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Pity, Pity the Guys, Plus St. Augustine, Plus Beavertails

How would you like to live in the world's coldest capital and have your radiator explode in the night and your drains freeze?

Apparently, this is what happened to our boys last night. They came in to the main building, late, cold and a little grumpy. I hope they thawed sufficiently. :D

We had a three and 1/2 hour lecture/discussion in Philosophy today over St. Augustine's On Grace and Free Will. It was very interesting, but stretched my lazy mind.

After homework, one of the girls took me skating on the Canal and we bought and ate Beavertails. Think of a whole grain sort of non greasy, thick, narrow elephant ear covered in thick glaze (in my case, maple). Delicious, but potentially fattening.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

First Resolution of the New Year

As I am notoriously inept at making and keeping New Year's resolutions, I've conived with myself and come up with a rather appealing variation of the same. Rather than various resolutions on a whim upon the New Year's Day (which, ahem, has already passed) I conceived of making a variety of resolutions to go into effect for the continuation of the New Year as of the day in which I make them.

So, now for the First Resolution of the New Year:

I, Eowyn Shieldmaiden (a.k.a. Dernhelm, etc) do hereby purpose, resolve, and determine, with due consideration, taking into account both the needs of my body and the demands of my study and fellowship, to obtain at least seven hours of sleep within every period of twenty-four hours commonly called one day, except in cases of dire need wherein to relinquish such relaxation and revitalization remains the only means of diverting certain catastrophe of academic or personal concerns, during the remainder of the Year of our Lord 2009.

With all due reverence to the Divine Power which determines such matters and due respect to the Weakness of Flesh which exerts it's will upon them also.